ASK AN MBA: Fashion Merchandising

ask an mba

I am a Professional Project Manager who works in the Real Estate Management sector.

My dream is to own a company that designs and builds "pop-up" projects for major fashion/retail merchandisers in North America and Europe (think Fashion Week). Any advice?

-Denise B.

Hi Denise,

For my advice to you. I'm going to pull a page from my past. 

When I was younger, I was a staff attorney for a major record company. I knew I didn't want to do legal work forever (even though I wanted to stay in the music business). My dream was to actually work in music marketing. And eventually, I co-founded a digital marketing firm -- and had every major label for a client. But there were a lot of steps and detours taken for me to get to that destination.

So back to the past. I wasn't making any traction sending off resumes to work in music marketing departments. Being an attorney "typecast" me and made it harder to break away. Regardless, I was determined so I turned to the one thing I knew I could depend on to solve problems: my creativity.

I made a list of music marketing executives at every record label. Then, I focused on a new artist at each label and drew up some marketing ideas for each. Granted, many of my ideas were impractical given small label budgets, but the idea was to show these people that I was clever, creative and driven. Plus, how many people are going beyond sending resumes to actually sending IDEAS?

I got loads of interviews from that strategy. It didn't directly lead to a marketing job, but it set my on my path to be a marketing entrepreneur (one interview led me to be hired at that label as an attorney, where I met my future business partner in the marketing business).

Here's my advice: focus on a couple of upcoming designers and draft a "pop-up' plan for each. Pitch them and show your creativity and why you'd be able to handle the task. Can you draw or use digital marketing tools? If not, find someone who can help you because you want your pitch to be visually-driven.

Another thought: go find work at a marketing company which caters to fashion clients and where you could actually create pop-up projects on their dime.


ask an mba

John Lavallo57 Posts

John is Columbia Business School MBA with expertise in marketing, business leadership, and law. John is a successful entrepreneur who took his first company public. He currently resides in New York City.